As Australia's worst serial killer learned he had terminal oesophageal cancer in a Sydney hospital, the man who led the police task force to catch him almost 25 years ago said there was one thing the killer should do before he dies.
"If he has one bit of decency in him, he would publicly admit to the crimes he's committed and explain it to the families of his victims - tell the truth."
The comments come from former detective and Assistant Commissioner of the NSW Police Clive Small, who led around 600 police officers assigned to Task Force Air to capture Ivan Milat, the man behind the seven backpacker murders.
On Wednesday it was confirmed that the convicted murderer had been transported from his cell in solitary confinement in Goulburn Supermax prison to a high-security ward at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney's east to undergo tests.
Milat has been in custody since May 1994, when he was charged and then sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences for murdering seven backpackers whose bodies were found in makeshift graves in the Belanglo State Forest, south-west of Sydney, in the 1990s.
He also kidnapped another British tourist, Paul Onions, who managed to escape from Milat's vehicle.
At 74, the now frail and underweight killer has been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, with tumours in his throat and stomach.
It is the likely cause of his recent rapid weight loss of 20kg in less than two months and an ongoing difficulty he is having with digesting food.
While his health has declined, it is understood he will be well enough to be moved from Prince of Wales Hospital to a more permanent ward in Long Bay Jail hospital in coming days.
Almost 25 years to the day after he and 50 other police officers descended on Milat's home in Sydney's south-west to arrest him, Mr Small said admitting to the murders - which Milat has never done - would "show one bit of decency before he dies".
"Though I don't think he ever would," he said.
Milat has previously been linked to other possible homicide victims or missing persons, including three women, Leanne Goodall, Robyn Hickie and Amanda Robinson, who all went missing in the Newcastle area within four months of each other, between 1978-79.
As one of six prime suspects in the disappearances of the women, Milat was called to give evidence during a coronial inquest into their deaths in 2002.
However any theories pointing to the convicted killer could not be substantiated at the time.
It is understood a new strike force has recently been launched by Newcastle detectives to re-open the investigation into the disappearance and murder of the three women.
Mr Small said he could not see any support for theories that Milat could offer any new admissions or confessions about other victims, simply because his health was declining.
"I've not heard one thing to suggest there is any evidence since his conviction to indicate any further murders," he said.
"All the cases that were possible we looked at and could find no evidence to suggest he was involved."
He added that he was not aware of anyone being "assigned Milat" on the state's unsolved homicide squad.
The Herald also understands NSW police do not have any current investigations looking at Milat as a potential suspect.
- SMH/The Age